Ethiopian, Somali forces 18 miles away from Mogadishu

December 28th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopian, Somali forces 18 miles away from Mogadishu

December 27, 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) — A joint force of Ethiopian and Somali government troops advanced Wednesday to just 18 miles (30 kilometers) from Islamist-held Mogadishu, but a representative said they would besiege the Somali capital rather than attack it.
“We are not going to fight for Mogadishu, to avoid civilian casualties. Our troops will surround Mogadishu until they [the Islamists] surrender,” Ambassador Abdikarin Farah told reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Earlier, pro-government forces seized the key southern town of Jowhar from their Islamist rivals before taking Balad, north of Mogadishu.

Many residents left their houses to cheer the victors, backed by Ethiopian tanks, who pursued the retreating Islamists as sporadic gunfire echoed in the air. The rapid offensive came hours after Ethiopia, defending the Somali interim government, said it was halfway to crushing the Islamists, heightening fears its next step would be to use airstrikes and ground troops to seize the capital.

In a hastily convened session, the African Union demanded all foreign players, including Ethiopia, immediately withdraw their forces from Somalia. “We appeal for urgent support for the transitional government and the withdrawal of all troops and foreign elements,” AU chairman Alpha Omar Konare said in a statement. An AU-led mission would visit Somalia soon, he said.
Fears of regional war

A week of mortar duels between Islamists and the Ethiopian-backed secular government has spiraled into open war that threatens to engulf the Horn of Africa, possibly attracting foreign jihadists.

Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu said Addis Ababa began the offensive at the request of the interim Somali government — and was also ensuring its own security.

“Ethiopian troops are fighting to protect our sovereignty from international terrorist groups and anti-Ethiopian elements,” he told Reuters. “Ethiopia has said time and again its forces will withdraw as soon as they end their mission.”

The retreating Islamists appeared to be heeding a call by their senior leader, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, for forces to gather in Mogadishu to prepare for a long war against Ethiopia.

Analysts say a tactical retreat by the Islamists may draw Ethiopian soldiers further into Somalia and trigger off a lengthy guerrilla campaign on the Islamists’ home turf. The Somalia Islamic Courts Council has depicted the conflict with Christian-led Ethiopia as a holy war against “crusaders,” tapping into popular anti-Ethiopian sentiment after decades of rivalry between the two neighbors.

Ethiopia has portrayed it as a war against al Qaeda-linked terrorists, winning tacit support from Washington, which believes Islamic militants are hiding in Somalia.

  1. shotolay
    | #1

    i am very wored for those yang an educated blinded EPRDF troops the name of ETHIOPIA they making war with
    rudeles enemy mabe when they went to moqoudishu those islamist they gona strick by sucide taketic this war
    rong time rong place saposed to be we have to make war with our historical enemy SHABYA SHABYA SHABYA…..
    ESAYAS the head of sneak i praye for GOD to see the dead and abuneded body of ESAYAS.

  2. | #2

    WHO IS NEXT? ohhhhhhh SHABYA. god know’s what is gon’t be after this mission complet. I’L PRAY FOR U TEGENTAY AZzzzzzzzzzzzz.bad boy, bad boy, what u gone do when EPRDF come and grap u lil chiken head.kkkkk. LONG LIVE EPRDF.

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